Dr Gail Bradbrook, Extinction Rebellion co-founder, ‘at peace’ with guilty verdict for breaking department of transport window - Extinction Rebellion UK

Dr Gail Bradbrook, Extinction Rebellion co-founder, ‘at peace’ with guilty verdict for breaking department of transport window

Today, 1 November, Dr Gail Bradbrook, the co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, was found guilty of criminal damage after she broke a window at the Department of Transport in October 2019. She will be sentenced on 18 December after the judge indicated he would consider passing a suspended custodial sentence once he had obtained a pre-sentence report.

The jury’s verdict came following Dr Bradbrook’s admission she had no defence in law. Instead Dr Bradbrook argued that authorities should be prosecuting the politicians and corporations causing criminal damage on a ‘planetary scale’, not the ordinary people trying to stop harm. She also pointed to evidence revealed by The Times, that the Department of Transport’s controversial HS2 project, which formed part of the motivation for her actions, was a multi-billion pound fraud on the British public [1], as well as being environmentally destructive. However the judge directed the jury that that did not amount to a defence.

Speaking after the verdict, Dr Bradbrook said:

“I’m at peace with the verdict. The judge gave the jury no choice by directing them that even if I did what I did to protect my own children, that was no defence in law. What does it tell us that there is no accountability for those causing damage on a national and planetary scale, the oil bosses and financiers, and those responsible for the billion pound fraud on the British public that is HS2, but that a mother taking action to protect her children, according to the scientific evidence, is treated as a criminal? Trust in a system that reaches such inhuman conclusions can’t last.”

Chris Packham said:

Shooting the brave messengers is vindictive, cruel, reckless and history will not look kindly upon the perpetrators of this kind of ‘justice’. It betrays any kind of ethical consideration and displays an abject disregard for our terrifying reality and the urgent need to address it. Shameful behaviour from the judiciary.”

Speaking ahead of the verdict, the actress Emma Thompson said: 

“In the same way we honour the women who broke windows to gain the vote, so we will honour the people who break windows in order to gain real action in the face of deadly climate collapse. People who risk losing their freedom for the sake of other humans and for the protection of all future generations are not criminals but heroes.”

Notes for editors

Out of 40 members of Extinction Rebellion to face jury trial to date, the majority, 21, have been acquitted. An acquittal means that a minimum of 10 out of 12 jurors (i.e. more than 80% of the jury) have found in their favour. In one case, where a guilty verdict was reached, the jury entered their verdict ‘with regret’ [2] (implying the jury were unaware of their right to acquit, despite the judge’s directions that no defence was available). Juries have also acquitted members of other groups such as Insulate Britain, Just Stop Oil. The overall pattern reflects polling that the public believes the Government is failing to tackle climate breakdown [3]. The pattern also presents a problem for the Crown Prosecution Service who can only prosecute cases if a conviction seems ‘more likely than not’.

Measures have been taken in courts around the country to curtail the power of juries, for example by judges directing them that no defence is available, banning defendants from explaining why they did what they did or from communicating to jurors a jury’s right to acquit as a matter of conscience (a principle known as ‘jury equity’ or  ‘jury nullification’). People have been sent to prison for using the words ‘climate change’ and ‘fuel poverty’ in court [4], and arrested for upholding the law [5] on a sign. In Dr Bradbook’s case, Judge Edmunds KC, Recorder of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, has threatened to discharge the jury altogether (using powers designed to deal with organised crime under the Criminal Justice Act s.46) if Dr Bradbrook tried to explain to the jury why she did what she did. Ultimately he didn’t follow through on this threat.

The UN has recently described the UK Government’s crackdown on climate protest as ‘terrifying’ [6], following research that it is being driven not by public sentiment, but by a network of ‘think-tanks’, such as Policy Exchange, which are funded by the fossil fuel industry [7].

Earlier this week, it was revealed the a jury at Southwark Crown Court had acquitted 5 members of Extinction Rebellion for criminal damage after they hired a decomissioned fire engine and sprayed the Treasury with fake blood, allegedly causing nearly £20,000 of criminal damage. The judge inidicated it would not be in the public interest to bring prosecutions against three others who had participated in the actions

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Donate

Email: press@extinctionrebellion.uk

Phone: +44(0)7756136396

Media assets: Imagery of Gail outside court | DfT action videos | DfT action stills

Notes for editors

[1] “HS2: The secret files that expose a multibillion-pound cover-up”: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/hs2-billion-pound-coverup-cost-files-investigation-skzv2nxwj

[2] “Extinction Rebellion trial jury express regret at convicting activists” https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/dec/18/extinction-rebellion-trial-jury-express-regret-at-convicting-activists

[3] “Majority of Britons think government is failing to tackle climate crisis, new poll shows” https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/cop27-climate-carbon-neutral-2050-b2215056.html

[4] “Activists jailed for seven weeks for defying ban on mentioning climate crisis” https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/activists-jailed-for-seven-weeks-for-defying-ban-on-mentioning-climate-crisis/

[5] “Big Oil Billions and The Real Cancel Culture Threatening Brits With Prison for Telling the Truth” https://bylinetimes.com/2023/08/25/big-oil-billions-and-the-real-cancel-culture-threatening-brits-with-prison-for-telling-the-truth/

[6] “Human rights experts warn against European crackdown on climate protesters” https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/oct/12/human-rights-experts-warn-against-european-crackdown-on-climate-protesters

[7] “Meet the Shadowy Network Vilifying Climate Protestors” https://www.desmog.com/2023/09/12/atlas-network-vilifying-climate-protestors/

Sign up for news